Born Robert LaSalle Bartl in Washington, Bob Bartel graduated from Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire, and attended what was then Western Maryland College before signing up to pitch for a Class-D Pittsburgh Pirates farm team in Deland, Florida. The baseball career lasted only a few seasons, and he left the sport due to a back injury.
He broke into radio at WFMD in Frederick, Maryland. His early stations included WEAM and WPGC in Washington, and WONN in 1959 where he was music director, using the air name Bob Bartel. He’s generally credited with introducing the WONN deejays to “The Wheel,” a round plastic spindle that held about a hundred 45-rpm records. It was used to balance the music rotation by tempo, artist gender, and other criteria, depending on how the format was set up.
Bob stayed with WONN for about a year or so and then moved on to WLOF in Orlando, where he was credited with breaking Del Shannon’s smash #1 hit “Runaway,” literally overnight, in early 1961. But his first love was news and sports. So, the following year, he accepted a news job at WCAO in Baltimore, delivering the news four days a week and hosting a Top 40 rock 'n' roll music show on Saturday nights. Several years later, he became the station’s sports director.
During his almost 30 years there, he played in charity games on the WCAO Good Guys basketball and softball teams. Occasionally, he’d wear Texas-style boots and jeans, prompting co-workers to call him "Bunkhouse Bob." When the station flipped to a gospel format in 1991, he left and joined Washington sports station WTEM-AM and USA Today Sky Radio in Arlington, Virginia (1992 to 1995).
Bob Bartel, the former radio disc jockey, newsman, and veteran sports broadcaster, died of heart disease in 2005 at the age of 74.
1959 - 1960 WONN (On Air Personality)